From Dawn to DuskAuthor:Katherine Nelson
Step inside a notable Russian River hotel that has a brand new look
Guerneville’s iconic Dawn Ranch has reopened after a three-year closure and renovation, and it’s definitely worth the wait. Nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, the thoughtful update stays true to the resort’s history and bohemian community while appealing to a new generation of urban escapees. The new Dawn Ranch features 53 original but luxuriously upgraded cabins, locally sourced cuisine at the on-site restaurant Agriculture Public House and plenty of time for star-gazing, picnicking, hiking in the historic Armstrong Woods State Preserve and enjoying world-class Sonoma county wineries.
Celebrating its 117th birthday this year, Dawn Ranch originally served as a retreat for wealthy San Franciscans to enjoy the Russian River. Later it earned the title of the first gay destination resort in California’s wine country. A devastating flood along the river closed the property in 2019 but new ownership under Bridgeton Holdings and the renovation by its in-house team has given the resort a new shine.
The updated lodgings range from a single-room cabins to stylish chalets that include an additional indoor sitting area. For larger parties there are spacious bungalows with full-fledged kitchens. To encourage outdoor enjoyment, there are no TVs, although wi-fi is available. The cabins also have outdoor decks where you can delight in neck-craning among the towering redwoods. The minimalist interiors stay true to the historic location without feeling too retro or fussy. Creature comforts include Frete towels, SMEG mini-fridges and Le Labo bath products. A breakfast basket of yogurt, granola and croissants appears as if by magic on your doorstep.
In addition to the spectacular setting and cozy lodgings, highlights include the cuisine at the Agriculture Public House, which is sourced locally or on the property in the kitchen garden. Meals are prepared by a culinary team led by Chef Jorge who has headed the kitchen for 15 years and whose delicious dishes add another note of continuity with the property’s storied past. Another high point is the kitchen garden itself, a masterful fenced border assemblage of flowers, fruiting plants, herbs and veggies that is not-to-miss.
From the quirky rooflines and redwood shingles of the original cabins to the inviting fire pits with evening s’more, there is a sense of ease about the new Dawn Ranch that is authentic and rejuvenating. What a relief the wait is over.